Allen Cole’s new musical The Miracle Man is a feast of music and food for the soul.

The composer of Two Planks and A Passion Theatre’s hit Rockbound and co-writer Michael O’Brien premiere this funny, spiritual musical, based on Canadian author Frank Packard’s novel, at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning this summer.

The outdoor setting perfectly suits a story about big-city grifters coming to scam a rural village in the 1920s.

The audience, after taking a 10-minute walk away from the arts complex, sits on bleachers and looks out to green meadows, white-flowering bushes and distant rolling hills.

Busy 21st-century life fades away the same way it does for the con artists once they arrive in the pastoral village of Deep Current.

Tommy (Marty Burt) is a polished, Chicago-style gangster who leads his gang to Deep Current after reading a report in the paper about a faith healer — the “miracle man.”

He persuades his girlfriend Rose (Kirstin Howell) to pretend to be the miracle man’s long-lost great niece.

As soon as she encounters the mysterious, blind and deaf man (Garry Williams), she feels something otherworldly. That is the start of odd occurrences in Deep Current that lead the small-time crooks to consider miracles may be real and to cause them to look deep within themselves.

Cole, playing at the piano happily away under a tent with fellow musicians Mark Adam and Emily Shute, juxtaposes the jazzy, hard-edged, comic songs of Tommy and his band with the purity and innocence of the folk of Deep Current.

The audience moves visually, too, in terms of Jennifer Goodman’s beautiful hats and costumes, from black high heels and flasks of liquor, to fresh-looking people in floral country dresses and straw hats.

They are like the Whos in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and they sing the most beautiful song, Whispering Sky, full of hope and faith. It’s a key song that people will find themselves humming once the show is over.

The journey from cold skepticism to belief is most strongly told in Rose’s journey. Howell does an amazing job of slowly transforming her character from a hardbitten, city girl to a deep thinking and feeling young woman. Her confusion and internal changes are beautifully read on her face and in her large, clear eyes. Howell has a great, expressive voice.

The strength of Two Planks is the ensemble, put together by director Ken Schwartz, including stalwarts like Burgandy Code as an embittered and ill, rich woman, and Ryan Rogerson, marvellous as the cheerfully stupid Harry the Dope, and newcomers like Andrew Chandler as Jimmy, the crook selected by the forthright Mamie (Amanda LeBlanc). Andrea Lee Norwood and Kyle Gillis also stand out in their roles.

The actors, under Schwartz’s clever, fast-paced direction with movement direction by Alexis Milligan, create memorable characters, textures and impressions using minimal props.

The actors use only wooden kitchen chairs and the motion of their bodies to suggest a moving train. Their bodies beat and sway to Cole’s lively rock music as if they were on the old Annapolis Valley day-liner.

Cole’s music, with lyrics by Michael O’Brien, is full of complex harmonies and dissonances. It’s difficult to sing and Burt, as Tommy, crafts it beautifully.

This show also stars amazing hats by costume designer Jennifer Goodman, whose women’s dresses are also excellent period pieces.

The Miracle Man wobbles a bit at the end but concludes on an uplifting, communal note that makes its audience believe in the redeeming power of love and hope and faith.

The musical, with book and lyrics by O’Brien and book and music by Cole, runs at 6 p.m. to Aug. 17 as a Two Planks and a Passion Theatre production at the centre.

The company has a cart for transporting anyone with mobility issues, is offering picnic packages and is scheduling a Halifax shuttle.